Thursday 22nd – The Eagle has landed!

We're here!  We've done it! Hoo-bloomin'-rah!!!  At 9.30am this morning, the Hull & Humber Yacht finally pulled into Urca Yacht Club, in Rio de Janeiro Marina, under the watchful eye of Joff the Clipper race director, the swiftly blinking lenses of the media cameras and, oh yes, into the welcoming, outstretched arms of Christ.  Now you can't really ask for a bigger welcome than that can you?!
Actually we did get one better. Virtually every member of the crews that were already in, were all gathered on their yachts to clap and cheer us in.  And also at the end of the pontoon, emblazoned from head to foot in orange were a small band of Hull and Humber crew and supporters, shaking their maracas and waving a huge bright orange feather boa!  The effort and the effect was both appreciated and enjoyed by all!  The next hour was a mad, mayhem muddle of beer swigging, hugging and laughing, greeting of other crew – who if you'd trained with them were confirmed life-long buddies – and opening of post that had been patiently waiting our arrival.  That was the time when the celebratory beer can was pushed aside in favour of ripping open envelopes and cards from family and friends.  I had a card from my brother Fred, Ali and nephews 1 & 2 and a letter from Anneli (of bubbles Club fame). Both I was expecting and eager to read.  I wasn't expecting the wave of emotion that swept over me as I started to read news from home and had to read and re-read both treasures until the tears stopped and I could finally see all the words! I then noticed Al, Tom and Big Mike, all off in their own little spaces, heads bent over letters – hoping no-one noticed the dampness around the eyes as home was suddenly brought 5,000 miles nearer.

The moment was broken by Vic who whooped with joy as she ripped open her box of luxury toiletries sent by her chap.  Each bottle was examined and cooed over as if it was a precious piece of treasure.  And after 4 weeks of wet-wipes that's exactly what they were – precious pieces of cargo that were indeed treasures!

After all the official greetings and necessary briefings, Piers gave us a couple of hours off to get a hearty breakfast, and catch up on phone calls and emails, before we then had the deep-clean to tackle.  The dreaded deep clean, that during training had been the worst chore in the world and taken 3/4's of a day, was now tackled with gusto (and beer-fuelled cheer) and with the team working like a well-oiled machine our Orange Umber was stripped, emptied, and every nook and cranny, scrubbed, washed, anti-bac'd and put back together in just over 3 hours.

We had an appointment to refuel – which we met at 4.30 and then the ultimate incentive of a proper shower.  As in a shower, in a shower booth – that doesn't move, with running water – both hot and cold – that you can stand under for minutes – hours if you wanted to!  A shower that once exited, you came out feeling clean, and refreshed.  It was by no means the standard of a 5 star luxury hotel but that didn't matter.  It was a shower.  Aaahhhhhhhhhhh!

Much as I wanted to stay under that heavenly gush of wet stuff, tonight was also the official Race Leg prize-giving and pretty soon the yacht club terrace was full of Clipper Crew and officialdom as the first, second and third place pennants were awarded to the respective teams.  It felt a bit strange to be doing this when we still had 3 yachts out there on the water gradually winding their way in to us.  And had it not been for the vouchers for free Caipirinhas, we might have felt a pang of jealousy at not being one of the teams up there on the podium.  But we were still overjoyed at finally arriving and let’s face it far too “happy” to really care!  We'd done the 'regretful part' over the last week and the new determination would kick in on the way to the start line of Leg 2.  For now, well, this was time to relax and enjoy Brazil!